In anticipation of Pearl of Meissa's release in 34 days (wow!) here's a snippet of what you can expect inside of Althea and Sebastian's mythical, crazy, holy-grail-filled adventure.
Chapter One ~ Althea
The chapel bells toll in my ears, and I join the population that winces as they bypass the slope of its structure.
My dress, made of a fabric too thin to exist solitarily, lays overtop shorts and a thick band narrowly covering my chest.
I pinch the long sleeves in my thumb, anxiously watching the dancing flames of candles that burn atop scattered stone podiums, guiding us forward in the inkiness of night.
Thorn walks in time with my steps, fidgeting with the cuffs of his suit. “This is uncomfortable.”
“Well,” I sigh, watching kids race past. “You could’ve worn pants and a T-shirt.”
He hisses, “Then we wouldn’t have matched, and you would have been way overdressed! I’m doing you a favour.”
My twin offers his arm as we approach. He proves an excellent crutch that keeps me from running back to my room and bolting the door. Once a month. That’s it. Once a month, I have to bare my soul and prove my commitment to our God. Once a month, I lose a little bit of myself.
Envy and anxiety are dominating emotions. Envious of the joy in the children that run by. They’re twelve, new to the community and ready to attend their first M-Secat. They have no idea what their future holds. The children will emerge true Orions tonight—fit for battle, thirsty with bloodlust. Anxiety follows this revelation.
The moon is nonexistent in the sky, and its dullness illuminates all else. Stars, passing comets, distant planets; conditions are perfect. Only when the moon’s light is completely drained do we gather. Only when Orion is at his brightest, standing tall clutching his sword, club, and cloak. He demands our attention, and we comply.
The field is heavy with the dew that sits atop every blade of grass, jumping for my feet as I brush by. I trip up in the bunch of fabric that chokes my ankles every few steps, but Thorn humbly pretends not to take notice every time.
I lean against his shoulder. “Do I have to?”
“Nobody can force you to do anything, Thea. You’re too stubborn.”
“Even when I’m defending you, you fight my opinions!”
“Only when it’s wrong,” I mumble, the fleecy touch of his suit fondly reminding me of a pillow. I close my eyes, trusting that Thorn won’t detour to toss me into a lake.
He sighs. “Your participation only urges you further into it, you know. If you didn’t do it, then you would have an easy way out of the guard.”
“Maybe when I’m not the only monster compass in the world.” I pull back, watching his jaw tick. “Besides, it’s bearable when the loves of my life are with me.”
He lets a breathy laugh loose. “Just say the word, Thea. Say the word and I’m gone. Package deal, remember? Same womb, same life. I’ll follow you anywhere. Don’t make me the reason you stay.”
I pinch his cheek, ruffling his untamed hair. “East.”
He replies in the same heartbeat, “West.”
We stop alongside other Orions highlighted by the same blood-red shade of differing clothing, when the podiums lengthen to accommodate the centerpiece—a long and carved marble plate. It’s empty, but not for long.